In re Humphrey (Bail)
In January 2018, the First District Court of Appeal ruled that the money bail system in California violated due process and equal protection by imprisoning defendants prior to trial solely because they could not afford to pay bail. The ruling required Superior Court judges to consider both a defendant’s ability to pay and non-monetary alternatives to money bail when setting an amount of money bail or setting conditions of release. It also prohibited detention that was based solely on a defendant’s inability to pay.
The California Supreme Court decided to review the case and requested briefing on the constitutionality of the money bail system as well as on the limits of preventive detention under the California Constitution. The parties’ merits briefing was completed in September of 2018 and amicus briefs were filed in October 2018. Respondent Mr. Humphrey, as well as numerous amici, argue that the Court of Appeal was correct in concluding that the money bail system violates due process and equal protection. Respondent and numerous amici, including the ACLU, also argue that the California Constitution limits courts’ ability to preventively detain persons prior to trial and permits preventive detention only for the most serious charges and only where a court has found clear evidence that release would likely result in harm to another person.
As of November 14, 2018, the parties’ responses to the amicus briefs are pending. The case has not yet been set for oral argument.